How to Identify Female and Male Marijuana Plants
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When it comes to harvesting home-grown marijuana, female plants are the name of the game. Not only do female plants produce the coveted buds needed for medicinal purposes, but they also have higher potency and THC content compared to their male counterparts. You’re in good hands—we’ve outlined everything you need to know about identifying female and male marijuana plants, so you can easily make the most out of your crop at home.
Look for thicker, sturdier stalks with fewer leaves on male plants. A male plant, compared to a female plant of the same strain, generally has a thicker stalk. That is because it gets taller than female plants and needs to be able to support the weight. They also have fewer leaves than female plants.  X Research source
- You need to check every plant to determine if it is male or female, as one rogue male can wreck your harvest.
- In general, male plants show their sex 7-10 days (indoor) or 3 weeks (outdoor) before female plants.
- If you’re trying to create new plants or reproduce, you need to leave these balls undisturbed.
- Female plants will have these bulbs too, but will also have long, translucent hairs on them. If you only see 1-2 on a plant, wait and see if more develop before cutting them.
- “Hermies” are generally undesirable plants, and they can ruin a small crop with their pollen if you’re not careful.
Throw out or remove male plants unless you specifically want seeds. Once you’ve determined a plant is male, you need to get rid of it or it will ruin your crop. Do not try and remove the buds by hand, as missing even a few will significantly decrease your crop. While most growers simply throw the plants out, a few keep them around for breeding purposes. If you do, put them in a separate room from the females, and make sure you don’t track pollen in from the male room to the female room on your clothes or hands.  X Research source www.theweedblog.com/sexing-your-outdoor-marijuana-plants/
- You can purchase “feminized” seeds as well, which usually create close to 100% female plants. However, there are occasional errors, and you should still keep a close eye on your plants to make sure there are no rogue males.  X Research source www.theweedblog.com/sexing-your-outdoor-marijuana-plants/
Note fuller bodies of leaves, when compared to males, on a grown female plant. If you’re trying to sex mature plants, one of the easiest indicators is how bushy they get. Male plants have thicker, sturdier stalks and very few leaves. A female of the same strain will be shorter and bushier, with more leaves, especially near the top.
- Male plants will have the small buds (pollen sacs) but will not have the associated hair growing out of it.
- Plants can grow both pollen sacs and pistils. If it does, it is hermaphroditic and should be treated like a male.
Separate your females from any males, as only females create buds. Only female plants will produce enough THC to be used as medicine, but they won’t create much if they become fertilized. The pistil is meant to attract pollen. If it gets it, it will create a seed, and all the plants energy and nutrients will be spent making seeds, not making big, THC-full buds. Your female plants are the only ones that will produce a crop, but only if they stay away from the males.
In general it’s not a good idea, because you can bring bugs and other things into your house, but as long as it’s not being kept around indoor plants, it should work. Just make sure to keep an eye on the plant and give it plenty of fresh air, as that is likely what it is used to. Keep in mind that the sun is the best grow light, though, so you should leave it outdoors if you can!
It needs a light cycle with a minimum of 12 hours of uninterrupted, complete darkness every day to trigger and maintain flowering.
Be grateful, because you probably have female plants. Female plants are the only plants that produce buds.
I have a 6 month old indoor plant but it is not budding or showing any male gender. The plant stands about 51 inches tall; it appears to be healthy, very green, most of the nodes are standing up instead of sagging. What could be the problem?
Plants usually need around 12 hours of darkness to bud. That is why they bud at the end of the summer. If you have these indoors where they get light for more than 12 hours, that is your problem.
Cut the smallest branch and make sure it’s one of the young ones that will be flowering. This is called cloning.
A plant with 3 leaves is ruderalis, a wild outdoor variety. There are 5 types: indica, sativa, ruderalis, Australian bastard weed, and duck’s foot.
Many advise metal halide for vegetation and high pressure sodium for flowering. If your want to use blue light for vegetation, use 6500 k (cool white) CFL because you can keep them close and avoid stretch. HPS is fine for the entire grow because the lack of blue keeps them short.
Let the soil dry out before watering again. Cannabis plants are resilient and will usually recuperate from over-watering.
Check frequently once your plants have hit the 6-week mark — you want to know you plant’s sex as soon as you can.
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- ↑ www.theweedblog.com/sexing-your-outdoor-marijuana-plants/
- ↑ www.theweedblog.com/sexing-your-outdoor-marijuana-plants/
About This Article
wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 23 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 2,188,817 times.
If you’re growing marijuana plants, it’s important to be able to tell male and female plants apart, since only the females produce the buds that contain high concentrations of THC. To identify male and female marijuana plants, make sure they’ve been growing for at least 6 weeks, since both types of plant look the same in their early stages. Then, look for male plants to have thicker stalks and fewer leaves than their female counterparts. You can also tell if a plant is male by checking for little flowers or bulbs at the joints of the stalk and branches. By contrast, you’ll see small, translucent hairs on the same areas of a female plant. Once you’ve identified that a plant is male, remove it from your growing area to prevent it from pollinating the female plants, which will result in your THC harvest being reduced. For tips on what to do with plants that have both male and female organs, read on!
Can You Tell if a Cannabis Seed is Male or Female?
W hen it comes to growing cannabis, sex is important. Not that kind of sex! We’re talking about the sex of the plant, and whether it is male or female. The reason for this is simple enough: only female seeds produce flower, also known as the buds you might have in your stash as we speak.
- Cannabis Seeds Explained
- What to Look for When Buying Cannabis Seeds
- How to Germinate a Bag Seed
- Understanding the Anatomy of a Cannabis Plant
Cannabis seeds can be male, female or hermaphrodites. Females produce the resin-secreting flower, and males make small sacs of pollen near the base of the leaves. Over the years, cultivators have learned that un-pollinated females (remember, males produce pollen) continue to make resin as they grow, and flowers that have not been pollinated are much more likely to produce high-potency cannabis. This is the basis of all modern medical and recreational cannabis cultivation, so determining the sex of a plant is highly important. But is there a way to know if a seed is female before growing?
Table of Contents:
- Determining if a Cannabis Seed Is Male or Female
- What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
- Methods for Feminizing Cannabis Plants
- Separating Male and Female Cannabis Plants
- How Important is Your Plant’s Sex?
Determining if a Cannabis Seed Is Male or Female
The straightforward answer is that, if what you’ve got is a handful of unmarked seeds, it’s pretty much impossible to tell which ones are male or female. The only true way to tell the plant’s gender is to plant a seed, then wait for it to mature.
After a period of several weeks, the plant will begin to pre-flower, or form a small bud in the crux of a branch. One of the first signs your cannabis plant is female is the appearance of pistillates that are wispy and generally white in color. Male plants will instead produce pollen sacs that look rounded with distinct splits running lengthwise, a bit like a tiny crab claw. These are the structures that growers typically look for to determine a plant’s sex.
If you’re looking for more precise, science-based methods to tell your plant’s gender, there are several labs that can sex your plant right after germination – eliminating the lengthy (usually around 6 weeks) wait to learn its gender. Portland, Oregon start-up Phylos Bioscience is in the business of studying cannabis genetics, and they sell a “plant sex kit” that’s pretty simple to do, even for the folks that aren’t scientifically inclined. Simply press a cotyledon, or embryonic leaf, onto the kit’s filter paper and send it to their lab. They then test the leaf for the “Y” chromosome to determine its gender, just as would happen for a human male.
What Are Feminized Cannabis Seeds?
While it’s basically not possible to determine the sex of a seed from a random bag of seeds, a practice known as feminizing is quite popular. Feminized seeds are selectively bred to produce only female plants.
While the process is very effective, it’s not perfect. There’s a chance that a small fraction of the seeds produced via the feminization method will sprout hermaphrodites, which are still capable of producing pollen.
Despite the potential for ‘hermies,’ knowing your seeds are female from the beginning is probably your best bet.
There are many companies that sell feminized seeds, but buyer beware, do your research to make sure the seller is reputable, especially if purchasing online. Thanks to modern technology, most feminized seeds from reliable brands will be 100% female as advertised – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people selling low-quality seeds out there.
Methods for Feminizing Cannabis Plants
If you have some experience growing cannabis and would like to bend a crop to your will to ensure that the seeds will be female, there are a few feminizing methods you might try. One such technique is to literally stress out a healthy female plant by interrupting the light cycle during flowering, called Rodelization Feminizing.
In the colloidal silver feminizing method, distilled water is mixed with pure silver and sprayed on female plants. This method works best when the plants are flowering. This results in pollen sacs being formed, which will allow the seeds to produce female plants.
Feminizing via the silver thiosulfate technique involves carefully selecting a nearly mature female plant, then spraying it with a 50/50 mix of sodium thiosulfate and silver nitrate. This triggers a gender change, from female to male. Place this plant back with the others to pollinate other female plants, and female seeds are created.
Separating Male and Female Cannabis Plants
As anyone with seasonal allergies can attest, it only takes a little bit of pollen to have a big impact. The reason that growers are so intent on weeding out male cannabis plants is that a single pollinator can negate an entire potential harvest.
How? The reason is that once pollinated, cannabis plants will cease devoting energy to growing flowers and will tell the existing flowers to stop producing resin, which translates to making less buds and less THC. That energy will be devoted to producing seeds instead. Think of the plant as a battery with a set amount of power. When that supply is spent in one area, it won’t be available for another.
Now consider that a single male plant can spread its pollen to an entire room of females.
If a grow is accidentally pollinated, that means the resources that were spent to bring the plants to that stage — the water, soil, electricity, fertilizers, not to mention the price of the seeds themselves — will have been wasted growing weed that can’t be smoked.
All of those male plants will have to be carefully separated from the grow space and destroyed, or else the growers risk another disastrous accidental pollination. It takes minuscule amounts of pollen to pollinate a plant, so growers must take extensive precautions to eliminate potential contamination. In addition to helping mitigate other contaminants, this is one of the main reasons that many workers will don full-body suits when working in a grow room, ensuring that accidental pollen exposure is kept to a minimum.
How Important is Your Plant’s sex?
How much time you want to spend figuring out the sex of your cannabis plants really depends on how much time and energy you’d like to devote to growing your own marijuana. If you are a medical cannabis patient or caregiver, for example, and need to know what kind of cannabis you are getting every time to keep a reliable supply, buying feminized seeds from a trusted seller is the way to go. It may even be worth it to have your plants tested for sex before they mature. However, if you have some time, consider yourself a green thumb, and want to experiment with your grow, you could simply plant your seeds and see what comes up. Happy growing!
What are your thoughts on feminized seeds? If you’ve used them before, how did it go? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.
Erin’s work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let’s Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedIn, WordPress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.